Today, we continue our series on hell by looking at one of the residents of hell – Satan.
Do you remember the church lady from Saturday Night Live?
Dana Carvey played a church lady who used to sit prim and proper as she interviewed various guests. One of her famous lines was, “Well, isn’t that special.” Or she would say, “Oh, let me guess, Satan!”
I can remember my best friend and I laughing hysterically at her skits and often repeating her words and doing her superior dance.
What I don’t remember is considering the truth behind what she was saying – the fact that Satan was real. While her show poked fun at religion, the fact of the matter is Satan was very real then and is very real today.
Many people are familiar with the word, Satan. They are also familiar with the term, devil. Both reference the same spiritual being. But did you know the Bible references several other names for Satan in various passages of scripture throughout both Old and New Testaments?
- accuser – Zechariah 3:11
- tempter – Matthew 4:3
- evil one – Matthew 6:13
- Beelzebub – Matthew 12:24
- Belial – 2 Corinthians 6:15
- the murderer from the beginning – John 8:44
- father of lies – John 8:44
- the prince of this world – John 12:31
- god of this age – 2 Corinthians 4:4
- ruler of the kingdom of the air – Ephesians 2:2
- angel of the Abyss – Revelation 9:11
- Abaddon or Apollyon – Revelation 9:11
- ancient serpent – Revelation 12:9
- serpent -Genesis 3:1
- enemy – 1 Peter 5:8
When reading the Bible, I have come across these various names and wondered who the passage was referring to. It wasn’t until I started researching the different names that I figured out it was the archenemy of God- the one who made his presence known in the very beginning – in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve.
Take us back
Genesis 3 tells the story about the deception of Adam and Eve and the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Say that three times fast.
But what we see from the very beginning is that Satan crafted himself as a serpent and wastes no time deceiving the first humans on earth. God’s creation was enjoying the garden, and Satan wasted no time insinuating a falsehood. The woman doubted God’s word. The craftiness of the serpent ushered evil into the world.
My footnote says, “the deceiver undertook to alienate people from God. Elsewhere he acts as an accuser to alienate God from people.”
What does he look like?
Today, when you google Satan or the devil, you find all sorts of images people have created, thinking they know what he resembles.
We see things like red men with horns on their heads and long tails, holding a pitchfork in their hand. We see things that look like they came straight out a horror movie, bloody, fiery looking, downright scary. Some images represent organizations that pledge their allegiance to the devil.
When reading scriptures, the only place I found that mentions red beings is in Revelation 12:3.
“Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth.”
My footnote says, “Dragons abound in the mythology of ancient peoples (Leviathan in Canaanite lore and Set-Typhon, the red crocodile in Egpyt. In the Old Testament, they are typically used metaphorically to depict the enemies of God and Israel.”
In 2 Corinthians 11:14, Paul tells us Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.
The devil is a personal being, not a mere force or influence. My footnote goes onto say, “he is the great archenemy of God and the leader of the hosts of darkness.”
Like the Hebrew for “Satan,” the Greek for “devil,” means “accuser,” “adversary,” or “slanderer.”
How do we know he is an accuser? Let’s look at Revelation 12:9-11a.
“The great dragon was hurled down – that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth and his angels with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say, ” Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him, by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.”
This last passage leads us into the activities of Satan, which we will look at next time we are together. Accusations are not his only strategy to thwart our spiritual growth.
In the meantime, stay alert, be aware, and stay in constant connection with our heavenly Father, the Lord God almighty.
Bridge to Grace – a nonfiction novel